R&G Technologies improved customer satisfaction by 15% over a 12 month period which has helped them retain more customers, build more customer advocates, and grow their business.
Without disclosing the actual numbers for each of these benefits, I thought to myself, I really need to write a post to help educate our customers on how to improve customer satisfaction
Before getting stuck into things, let’s set the stage with three important definitions.
Customer satisfaction is the measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation.
Customer retention is the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections.
Customer loyalty is a model in which a company’s resources are employed as a means to increase the loyalty of a customer and other stakeholders. The objective is that a loyal customer will continue to do business with your company and act a brand advocate by spreading positive word of mouth.
The relationship between these three definitions is important to understand so you know why you want to improve customer satisfaction.
Here’s a quick formula I like to share with our customers:
Increase Customer Satisfaction = Increase Customer Retention + Increase Customer Loyalty
I believe companies tend to measure customer satisfaction incorrectly. Think about it… is a satisfied customer a happy customer? What is a satisfied customer?
R&G measures customer satisfaction by using Client Heartbeat and looking at a customer’s happiness level. They ask a question like this, How likely would you be to recommend us to your friends and colleagues? By using customer satisfaction surveys and customer feedback questionnaires to measure customer satisfaction, they can identify who their ‘at risk’ customers are, and who their potential customer advocates might be.
Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless. – Jeffrey Gitomer
Although measuring customer satisfaction can be difficult, it has a significant impact on customer loyalty and customer retention, which is measurable. As we know from defining these above, customer retention tells us how many people are staying (or cancelling), while customer loyalty shows us who our loyal customers are so that we can leverage them as customer advocates.
Keeping these thoughts at the forefront of this post, let’s look at how to improve customer satisfaction, just like R&G Technologies:
1. Use online survey software to send out customer feedback surveys to your customers
Getting feedback from your customers helps you determine how happy they are and identify areas for improvement. The fastest and easiest way to get this feedback is by sending them a customer satisfaction feedback survey. R&G Technologies used Client Heartbeat to help them with this.
Shameless plug: Client Heartbeat is an online survey tool that helps you send beautiful customer feedback surveys and monitors customer satisfaction over a period of time to intelligently identify how happy or unhappy your customers are.
Here are five advantages of using an online survey tool as opposed to a more traditional market research method:
- Low costs: since there’s nearly zero overhead, you can save LOTS of money.
- Automate and real-time: responses come through nearly straight away so you can quickly act on feedback.
- Convenience: online surveys are super easy for your customers. They take a fraction of the time compared to traditional survey methods.
- Flexibility: you can design and tweak your surveys really easily. Customize questions and add personalization.
- No interview: since online surveys are done within your customer’s internet browser, there’s no interaction with other people. This often makes respondents feel more comfortable with sharing their honest opinions.
2. Track customer feedback over a period of time, on an individual level
One of the biggest ways R&G Technologies retains more customers is by tracking customer satisfaction over a period of time. They take a very personal approach to customer feedback and track satisfaction ratings on an individual level, from one period to the next.
Here’s example diagram of how they tracked customer satisfaction:
This screenshot shows the level of detail R&G is able to track customer satisfaction. From August 2011, too May 2013, you can see ratings improve, then drop, then improve. From this data, R&G can get actionable insights into the satisfaction levels of each individual customer.
Using these actionable insights, they are able to identify customers ‘at risk of leaving’ and solve their problems quickly.
Here’s another screenshot of the detail R&G were able to look at inside their customer satisfaction dashboard.
Tracking changes allows you to identify the point in time their attitudes shifted, so you’re able to rectify perceived failures, maintain what you’re doing well and avoid past mistakes.
– Berenice Tan, How to Write a Good Customer Feedback Survey
3. Follow up with unhappy customers and solve their problems, quickly
As part of R&G’s monthly business meetings, Mimi Tan pulls up her Customer Satisfaction Dashboard with all the customers Client Heartbeat has identified as ‘at risk’ for the period. As she goes through each company, Mimi asks each corresponding account manager how they feel about the customer and if there was anything they had noticed which may have impacted the customer’s satisfaction scores. Insight is taken from account manages and Mimi, as Operations Manager, follows up personally with each of the at risk customers.
She calls them to arrange a follow up meeting. Yes you heard right, a real life meeting! That’s what needs to be done guys, show your customers you care!
Mimi goes to the meeting with a game plan of what she thinks is wrong and how R&G is going to fix the problem ASAP, and stop it happening again. In the meeting she’ll also ask additional questions to discover more insight into what is causing the low customer satisfaction scores.
All in all, Mimi leaves the meeting with all the cards on the table – she now knows exactly what was causing the low customer satisfaction scores, she has presented a solution to solve the problem, and has some ideas around what strategies and processes she needs to implement to stop this happening again for this customer, and all of R&G’s other customers.
This is a great example of how to successfully follow up and act on customer feedback.
4. Use customer feedback to proactively prevent problems from happening again
Picture this… you’re an IT Company, you’ve been called onsite to fix a networking issue and you forget your tools. Meanwhile, your customer has gone over two hours without internet and you’ve just told them you’ll have to go get your gear and it won’t be fixed for another three hours.
“That’s f*cken bullsh*t!” screams your customer.
Has something like that ever happened to you?
Now picture this… you’re still an IT Company, two months down the track and get called out to the same customer address. IT HAPPENS AGAIN, you forget your tools.
Your customer is fuming and rips up your contract on the spot. You’ve just lost a customer, just like that.
This is an example of not using customer feedback to prevent problems from happening again. In this case, you should have implemented some processes and programs to ensure that problem never happened more than once. Keep a spare set in your truck, put a checklist on the door, do whatever you need to stop problems from recurring.
Matti Airas talks about a customer feedback analysis and service recover program that he uses to improve customer satisfaction for his clients. Here’s how it works:
The right customer feedback analysis service will provide a unique opportunity to recognize product, service, and delivery failures in real-time and to take corrective action quickly, effectively, and to the customer’s satisfaction. So, what are the characteristics of the right customer feedback analysis service?
5. Integrate customer satisfaction tools into your business processes
One of recommendations for how to improve customer satisfaction is to integrate your customer feedback into your business processes. What I mean by this is you need to be clear when you bring on a new client that you care about their customer feedback and conduct quarterly customer feedback surveys that are compulsory! Yes that’s right, compulsory.
By doing this you’re setting customer expectations right away – this shows that you care.
R&G likes to integrate their customer satisfaction surveys into their business reviews. So just before their account managers catch up with their clients, they’ll ask them fill out the customer feedback surveys. This way, they have feedback ready to go and can address any concerns at the meeting.
On the flip side, if a customer leaves really positive scores, account managers are instructed to find ways to help them become customer advocates.
Customer advocates are great for business. They are your most loyal customers that give you the highest customer satisfaction scores. You can leverage this small group to help refer new business and spread positive word of mouth.
Shameless plug: Client Heartbeat helps businesses identify their customer advocates by asking specific questions based on the Net Promoter Score.
6. Get buy-in from employees and create a customer-focused company culture
Jeff Mowatt once said, “Business leaders need to create an environment that motivates employees to want to take care of customers.”
Unfortunately, it’s hard to create a customer-focused culture. Jeff talks about there being seven keys to success. Out of the seven he discusses, here are the three that stuck accord with me:
- Replace policies with parables: Rather than boring policies, have managers share stories of ways they demonstrated exceptional service, with specific on-the-job examples.
- Coach instead of fight fires: A manager should strive to be a mentor. By coaching your employees you can proactively train them to be prepared for customers in the right way.
- Celebrate service – not seniority: In a study of Fortune 500 corporations, researchers found that the number one motivator of employees is recognition – knowing that they are appreciated. Celebrate exceptional service and recognize top achievements.
R&G has buy-in from their employees. They have been able to achieve this by keeping customer service at the forefront of everybody’s minds.
Here’s how they do it:
- They address customer service and satisfaction scores in monthly business meetings.
- They request every employee to treat each interaction with a customer as if they are trying to win their business or ask for a referral.
- They give out monthly customer service awards based on unsolicited customer feedback (a customer randomly decides to call the office and say thank you)
See also: How to ask for client testimonials
One company that is known for creating and building a customer-focused culture is Zappos.com.
Here’s an outstanding Slideshare presentation by the company’s CEO, Tony Hsieh.
Improving Customer Satisfaction leads to increased customer retention and more customer advocates
So there it is, six quick tips on how to improve customer satisfaction just like R&G Technologies. Remember, by improving customer satisfaction, you can increase customer retention, create loyal customer advocates and grow your business.
Some other posts you should read:
Increase customer satisfaction with 9 simple strategies (ebook download)
Enter your name and email below to grab this eBook and improve customer satisfaction today. You will also receive our weekly email with strategies, advice and examples to help you improve customer satisfaction.